While it is always best to learn "how to do it right" rather than memorize "how people get it wrong," the following list of barriers to communication may provide insight on behaviors which strain communication…and alternative approaches which could improve interaction in couple relationships.
Criticizing - negative comments and non-verbal actions (glaring, furrowing forehead) which attack or reject the person, not the action tend to provoke a "fight" (criticize, defensiveness) or "flight" (silence, withdrawal) response
Alternatives to critical communication:
Name-calling - labeling, projecting blame, comparing someone to an ideal leaves the receiver in a position of "being" a negative, without options to "do" something positive
Alternatives to labels:
(Instead of "You're lazy" or "You care less"): "There's a lot to do here and I
need your help." (or simply appreciate what he/she does do)
It takes two people to create a relationship, you and me. When it comes to making things work or keeping things from getting worse …it’s up to me.
Diagnosing - finding fault or analyzing establishes a problem-focus rather than a solution- or person-focus; moreover the "problem" is defined from one person's viewpoint
Alternatives to diagnosing:
Source: Robert Bolton. (1979). People skills. New York: Simon & Schuster/
Developed by Ben Silliman, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service Family Life Specialist